Councillor profiles - Mayor Lyn Brewer Whyalla City Council
Whyalla is a steel city that has struggled for many years.
After steel company Arrium went into administration in 2016, we had 14 months of the most traumatic times, not knowing if we had a future or not.
Whyalla was almost totally reliant on the mining and steel making industry, and if it closed, the city would slowly disappear.
Expected job losses meant we were faced with the loss of most of our population, people with mortgages anticipated not being able to sell their homes and pay off other debts, businesses would go broke, and a city of 22,500 people slowly turn into a ghost town.
Then along came Sanjeev Gupta, international businessman and billionaire, and the Gupta Family Group (GFG).
Mr Gupta bought Arrium in June 2017 and turned our lives and our future around.
He is investing in new mines, upgrading the plant, opening up the port, establishing huge solar and pumped hydro power plants, and assisting in making the city a place where people want to live and work and raise families.
It has been the most amazing transformation, and it’s been a wonderful and exciting experience to be involved in.
I’ve been able to put my background to great use.
Skills that filled a gap
I was the local State Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2014, and was Speaker of the House for three years.
On retiring, I looked forward to spending more time involved in local Whyalla groups such as the Family History Group, and Women’s networks, and learning more about our environment, but sadly our local Mayor passed away, and left a huge gap, right at the time Arrium went into administration.
I had spent some time in the nineties on council prior to being elected to parliament, and I ran hoping that I could use my experience and skills to get us through the crisis.
I’ve had a tough two years but also a very satisfactory experience, knowing our city has survived and is poised to become far more prosperous than ever before.
Taking a new direction
Whyalla is a desert town, but next to the sea.
We are surrounded by saltbush, red dirt and Myall trees.
However, we are near the top of Spencer a gulf in South Australia (SA), and have some of the most pristine waters possible.
A unique species of cuttlefish has been found in these waters, and between May and August each year, hundreds of thousands congregate in a small area very close to Whyalla called Point Lowly to breed.
They are one of the largest Cephalopods in the world and mating behaviour involves colour changes and some amazing congregations.
Divers from all over the world visit our city and we have featured in numerous documentaries including the BBC, and National Geographic.
It is quite a spectacular experience and has changed our image from a very red industrial town to an exciting and unique ecotourism destination.
An agenda for growth
I enjoy being able to lead my city, and am passionate about ensuring we have in place all the supports, infrastructure and resources needed for our next stage of history.
We have trouble attracting professionals, as do other regional cities, and there is a strong tendency for people to fly in and out for work, so we are constantly looking for ways to encourage them to make their homes here and become part of our community.
We are unique because of the trials we’ve been through.
We are remote, being almost 400 km from Adelaide and 70 km from the nearest town.
But, Whyalla is a strong, resilient town and we have survived some very tough times.
I like to say we have steel backbones, and can handle most things that come our way.
It is a safe community, and a great place to raise families.
My next challenge is to retain my role as Mayor in our current elections, and work to getting more women to take on and gain leadership roles and in local government.